7 Health Benefits of Lap Swimming

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Lap swimming is one of the most popular activities and sports across the globe. Wherever you go on the planet, you will find humans swimming.

Jumping into the pool doesn’t require a lot of gear. All you need when heading down to the local aquatic center is a swimsuit, swim goggles, and a towel and you have everything required for an exceptional full-body workout that will improve your mood.

Lap swimming has often been called the perfect workout because of its versatility and accessibility. Whether you are young or old, in shape or not, swimming has something to offer you in terms of improving your health, building muscle, and even improving your mood.

As a lifelong competitive swimmer, I was fortunate enough to learn these benefits firsthand. But for the novice swimmer, or someone who is thinking about getting into the water for the first time, here are just some of the reasons that taking to the pool is so awesome.

Swimming is great for your lungs. Unlike most lanbd-based sports and activities, like running, cycling or weightlifting, breathing properly is absolutely critical. While swimming up and down the black line of the pool you are forced to be conscious of your breathing. Research backs up the benefits of swimming for pulmonary health, with a study finding that retired swimmers still had more lung capacity and strength than middle distance runners.

Burns calories like crazy. The main goal with most people who go to the gym or the pool is to lose weight and get fit. Pound for pound, lap swimming is one of the best forms of exercise out there, with swimmers working out at a moderate pace burning more calories than comparable amounts of time spent on an elliptical trainer or on a stationary bike.

A place to meditate and recharge. One of my favorite health benefits of swimming isn’t as obvious as developing big swimmer’s shoulders or losing weight. It’s being able to shut off the outside world for an hour. With no smartphone, no social media, and no 24/7 news cycle blaring at me, I have a nice mental break from the external distractions of life. The silence of the water provides a form of meditation combined with exercise that leaves me feeling recharged and focused.

Lap swimming is a full body workout. Swimming is a full body workout. Whichever stroke you are performing in the water, from butterfly to the standard front crawl, you are soliciting your arms, shoulders, back, legs, hips and calves to propel yourself through the water.

Swimming strengthens your bones. Swimming provides exceptional benefit to those looking to avoid high-impact exercises like running or weightlifting because of its zero-gravity component. The weightlessness may make it seem like your bones aren’t strengthened and are being neglected, but this is not the case. Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that while running does indeed build bone mineral density, swimming wasn’t far behind and still performed better than the control group.

Helps for people with asthma. For children and adults who suffer from asthma, the warm and moist air at the swimming pool provides a respite from the triggers of an asthma attack. Combine this with the lung-building benefits of swimming, and asthmatics have a welcome way to get exercise and get healthier without having to worry about the onset of asthma symptoms.

Helps you sleep better. We all could use with a better night of sleep, and the aerobic nature of lap swimming is a proven way to help you get a deeper and longer rest each evening. Research (Reid et al, 2010) found that with older adults, as little as 15-45 minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week significantly improved sleep duration and quality of sleep.

Image credit: Flickr, Creative Commons License

Hickey Pool Lap Swim